Transcript Doorstop Perth

Alan Tudge: Well, this morning I met with Premier McGowan and Minister Saffioti, who’s standing right beside me, and we agreed that we would progress the Perth City Deal, but with a focus on reactivating and revitalising the CBD, so that more people can live, work, and play right in the city centre.

Now we know that when you look at the population density, the Perth CBD is remarkably low, in fact, some of the lowest population densities of any capital city in Australia. And we've just had a roundtable discussion as well, of which John Carey was participating in that also. And in that roundtable discussion with some key stakeholders from across Perth, we outlined some of the ideas which might be able to be utilised to revitalise the Perth CBD to bring more people into it, to make it more lively on the weekends and at night, and in doing so make it a more attractive destination for locals, for international tourists, and also to make it safer. And some of those ideas included, for example, moving a university campus or creating a new university campus in the heart of the city, which would bring thousands of students into the CBD, which would then flow into the cafes and restaurants around the area and make the city more lively. There were other ideas put forward about better utilising the river, and better utilising and activating retail precincts and the like.

Today is just really the beginning of the process, and we’ve agreed that the State and Federal Governments will cooperate together over the next six to eight months, and work out a master plan for the CBD with the view that we would be signing a City Deal come the middle of next year. And that City Deal would be a long-term plan to revitalise Perth's CBD so that more people can live, work, and play right in the heart of the city. Now I’ll just ask Rita to say a few words, then John can say a few words.

Rita Saffioti: As the Federal Minister outlined, it was a very productive meeting with the Premier and also recently with all the stakeholders, identifying some of the key steps that we can take to revitalise the CBD, and really move forward with the whole City of Perth debate. So what we've committed to is a City Deal in relation to the CBD. As you would be aware, about 18 months ago, there was a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the previous Prime Minister. This takes the whole issue forward, and we're very keen to partner with the Federal Government and also with the City of Perth about revitalising the CBD. A lot of discussion and a lot of commentary about the City of Perth, but what this will do is set up a plan for the future, to direct government investment and private sector investment over the next decade.

What we need to make sure is that we have a plan, and we have a plan that really identifies our cultural precinct, our entertainment and sporting precinct, where we want to attract more people to live, and also concepts of the university and other ideas to actually bring more people to live in the city. We think we can do it relatively quickly, there's been so many reports, so much analysis, but it all centres about bringing more people to live in the CBD, and to make more people, make the City of Perth more attractive to more people to visit, and that's both people from within WA, people living in the suburbs, but also interstate and overseas tourists. So we’re very keen to work together. Sounds like home. Well she’s activating the CBD. Actually having more families in the CBD is what we want, so we want her here. More children and more noise and more activity across the whole CBD, and that's what we're very keen to work on. I’ll just ask John to make a couple of comments.

John Carey: The key issue is is that we're doing everything we can to try to drive more life, vibrancy, and activity in the city. It was actually good today, we had a roundtable with all the major players in Perth, and it's fair to say there was a clear agreement that we made one coordinated approach between the State and Federal and City of Perth. You've got to be clear, we've never had this before. We've had an ad hoc approach to planning for the city, and what this will do will provide a very clear way forward about what will be our cultural arts, sporting precincts, how we will activate the river. So I see this as a really great way forward to driving more life and more people in the city.

Rita Saffioti: Okay. Questions, and who to?

Journalist: Either one of you, I guess. Obviously, a City Deal with Perth has been on the cards for quite some time, it seemed like it stalled for a while. What caused it to stall, and is it back with a bit of momentum again?

Alan Tudge: Yeah, you’re probably right. I mean, as Minister Saffioti outlined, we signed to a Memorandum of Understanding, must be 18 months ago now, and it did stall, we didn't get the momentum which we wanted, and so we have reconsidered what what we could achieve, and we've decided that in the short term let's have a square focus on the Perth CBD, knowing that it needs to be revitalised, knowing that we need to get more population density there. And then if you have a revitalised CBD, if you have greater population density here, then you’ll get more tourists come here as well, both local and international. You’ll get more international students come here as well, and all of that will stimulate the economy. So that's step one.

Having negotiated and landed this within the next six to nine months we can then consider whether or not we want to go further. But let's focus our efforts initially on the CBD, achieve something really meaningful for Perth both now and into the long term, and then look beyond that.

Journalist: So in basic terms, there's federal money on the table to help try to revitalise the CBD?

Alan Tudge: Well, we have to go through a process here. So, City Deals are about the three levels of government coming together and outlining a long-term plan, and that's what we want to do here. So yes, but there needs to be some investments, but it's actually more about laying out a master plan over the long term, so that there's real certainty so that people know where we're going, and that certainty means you get private investment as well. And that's what we also want to see.

Journalist: Hobart had about $783 million for its City Deal, Darwin $200 million. Is there any kind of value you can put on a deal like this?

Alan Tudge: Listen, we have to we have to work through the process, we’ll do the proper consultations with the stakeholders. As John Carey pointed out, there's a lot of good pieces of work which have already been done, which we will need to go and have a look at. And then we'll outline what the plan is, both in the short term, the medium term, and the long term.

Journalist: How much are you willing to spend on Perth, perhaps?

Alan Tudge: Well, we've already spent over $13 billion on infrastructure since coming to office, and obviously we’ve fixed up the GST situation, but we’ll continue to be investing in Perth, but we're not at that stage yet.

Journalist: Any discussions around light rail or light rail systems in the CBD for transport options as part of this deal?

Rita Saffioti: Well, transport we considered as part of the master plan. So we’ll be looking at issues to do with pedestrian and cycling access, and that’s some work that's already underway in government. And of course, identifying the corridor, so that's the key part of the master plan. We’re happy to make decisions in respect to infrastructure spending for identifying the corridor, because you need to future proof that corridor and also facilitate land use around that corridor. So in relation to CBD, they’ve been part of the discussion.

And just picking up on a point in relation to the original City Deal proposal that was signed, much of that is already underway anyway, because at the time it was very much a Metronet City Deal, and that infrastructure has been allocated, and a lot of the planning reform and station development that was part of that City Deal are underway anyway.

So what this does, this allows us to concentrate on the CBD and on the City of Perth and try and activate it as quickly as possible.

Journalist: What ideas would you like to see come to fruition?

Rita Saffioti: Well, there’s been a lot of discussion about a university campus, and I think we all acknowledge that having a university campus in the CBD would really create an enormous amount of activation, and will draw young people to the city. And as we’ve said, I do go shopping on the weekends. There is activity but it’s really at night time you know, it’s really making sure that people have things to do at night, and there's a lot of activity at night. And a university campus, if you look around the world but also around Australia, have been, I think, the key instigator. More population of course, and other services around the area too.

So some of the issues that were raised was that if you want to bring more people into the city centre, it's about what services need to be provided. Schools and other amenities are things that have been raised. And I think that we can look at that over the next six to eight months, because you want more people in the CBD, but you also actually want a mix of demographics. So, you want families, you want younger people, and you want people that want to go out and enjoy what the city can offer them.

Journalist: If we're talking about having a deal signed in six to eight months, how soon after that would we say money starts to flow?

Rita Saffioti: Well, it just depends. First of all, the time frame of what's deliverable. So I mean, all these things are longer term. And so, as the Federal Minister outlined, this is really about having a plan that can guide government and private sector investment. As we've said, we've seen a lot of investment in different parts of the city of Perth in the past. But what we want to do is actually link them together and actually guide further government investment. So, I think the old idea of just build one thing and that's going to change the city isn’t the right way; it's actually having a plan, identifying key precincts, and make sure we attract people to the city to live, to visit, and also a mission like the university campus and other sort of schools and TAFEs are also things that we would like to consider.

Journalist: What can State and Federal Government really do in terms of a university campus? There already seems to be a bit of interest from ECU, Murdoch, UWA coming in?

Rita Saffioti: I'll start off, and maybe the Federal Minister wants to come too. But one of the things we're looking at is all the unutilised government-owned land across the city of Perth. So, the State Government has land parcels throughout the city of Perth. And what we're looking at and we'll take a stock take of those parts of land which we believe are underutilised and can possibly form part of a future City Deal. So we believe, as a State Government, one of our key levers, two key levers, land and also planning and facilitating higher density as well. So we think those levers in particular are things we're really interested in. And so, identify areas of land that are currently ready for development or those that are underused by State Government agencies now that can be put on the table as part of any further investment by universities and Federal Government.

Alan Tudge: I'd just say that we've already signed seven City Deals around Australia and we have several underway as we speak. In many of those City Deals, a university has been at the heart of it. When I think about the Darwin City Deal, for example, it's creating a new campus in the CBD of Darwin and became one of the centrepieces of that deal. And that was the same actually in the Launceston City Deal, and in other City Deals as well. So it was certainly a common theme in the stakeholder group today, but it was just one of the themes. And other themes were how do we activate the arts precincts, for example, because that can be a real mechanism to get people into the city where you’ve got more activity at night, and by having more activity at night and having more people around, it actually makes the place safer as well.

And there's all sorts of other ideas. We want to work methodically through these in a cooperative fashion over the next few months, and then negotiate putting together an agreement which will be over the long term. Some things will inevitably be funded in the short term, others being medium, some will be in the longer term.

Journalist: Will this plan also look at maybe addressing, because if it's a long-term plan, also look at addressing the homeless issue in the CBD, as that could deter, I guess, tourists coming to the city as well.

John Carey: Well, look, I just want to be clear we’ve already started rolling out a new homelessness plan for the city, as you'd be aware, very soon an accreditation system with dedicated precincts will be coming into Perth. The state will be also introducing its 10-year strategy, which will have initiatives there. So we do see that the approach to homelessness, which we are taking seriously, because it is such a critical issue, has its own separate approach.

Journalist: Is it still the most appropriate place to have all those services?

John Carey: Well, no one is saying that any business should suck it up. I mean, that's why we've got to try a new approach to homelessness in our city. The simple reality is it's very clear that the work of more than 50 groups in the city, while admirable, hasn't been working to best effect. That's why we're bringing in a new coordinated approach with the accreditation system, with dedicated service precincts. Those precincts are aimed to be away from residents, away from businesses and retailers, because we understand that whenever you are dealing and tackling with homeless issues, there are going to be complexities and also potentially anti-social behaviour. So that should be announced by the end of the year. That will be dedicated service precinct areas where we engage and deal with homeless issues.

Journalist: Just on the universities again, is it a bit of a battle between the universities, do you think it's going to be more of having different, I suppose, presences from several universities, or do we need to just have one big presence, one big campus, and they’re going to have to fight for it?

Alan Tudge: We haven’t got to that stage yet. So it was simply one of the ideas which has come up in the roundtable discussion today, and it's also been an idea which has come up in other reports, but we’re nowhere near making decisions upon that.

Journalist: What do you think is going to be the most important part of this deal, is it going to be congestion? You talked about congestion, is it one of those ones where perhaps the Federal Government is relied on most for the sort of funding that will be required to deal with that around the CBD?

Rita Saffioti: I actually think it’s probably getting the right plan, and getting more people living in the city. I think that's probably the most important objective. In relation to congestion, we're spending records amount on rail infrastructure and road infrastructure, identifying key areas across the suburbs. But when it comes to the city, it’s really making sure we have enough people in the city at night on weekends to make sure we have a more active and vibrant city.

Journalist: And how are you going to convince people to live in the CBD?

Rita Saffioti: Well, I think the whole issue is about the amenity and also the services. And so we identified that, if you have a family who want to live in the city, some of the challenges in relation to access to primary schools and so forth, so I think they’re the issues that we need to address. And make sure that we have all the amenity on the suburbs in the CBD context to really help us allow people who want the CBD lifestyle, to have some of these services, and some of the access to some of the key services that you'd have in the suburbs.

Journalist: So you’re going to start investigating primary, high schools, within the CBD?

Rita Saffioti: Well, we did investigate, we have a new high school, the Bob Hawke College.

Journalist: It’s not quite central though.

Rita Saffioti: It’s very accessible, very accessible to the inner city. But issues of primary schools have always been raised, and an issue that's been raised for a long time in relation to I remember the East Perth development, a key issue at place at the time was where did the children go to school. I think that's a real issue and something that we need to address. Like I said, it's also making sure about future proofing too, and making sure that where we identify surplus land, that we can identify it for key infrastructure in the future, whether it be a transit corridor, whether it be a [indistinct] or whether it be other services. If we have a plan, what we'll do is like I said, guide government investment and private sector investment and the Federal Government investment into the future.

Journalist: How much do you think this deal should be worth?

Rita Saffioti: No, no. We’re working very cooperatively to get a good outcome for the city, and so it all depends on the priorities and the timeframe of expenditure, but we really support this idea and we think it’s a good idea to move the whole debate about the future of Perth forward.